Behind closed doors an executive session during their final meeting last month, the City Council voted to give City Manager Jim Hartmann a $20,000 raise. Emerging from closed executive session after midnight, council members raised Hartmann’s salary from $193,153 to $213,787. The midnight vote also raised the city attorney’s salary from $157,285 to $173,506, and the city clerk’s salary was raised from $102,153 to $112,688.
“That’s outrageously high,” said Lou Cordia, owner of Cordia Companies, a public relations firm, and an activist who has spent years trying to persuade council members to reduce spending. “Nobody in city government deserves a $20,000 raise.”
Hartmann will now make $14,000 more than Arlington’s county executive, who pulls in $199,595 a year. But Hartmann’s 10.3 percent increase wasn’t unusual. According to Bruce Johnson, director of the Office of Management and Budget, the average city employee’s salary was raised by 7.6 percent. This year, Johnson said, the city instituted a “market-rate adjustment” to make Alexandria’s salaries regionally competitive.
“This year’s market-rate adjustments are a one-time thing that were designed to retain our competitiveness,” Johnson said. “We want to maintain our competitive position in the labor market.”
Although the vast majority of city employees got a raise, members of the City Council members did not. During the last budget cycle, the council considered raising salaries for the city’s elected leaders but decided against the idea. Council members receive an annual salary of $27,500 — an amount that Councilman Andrew Macdonald says is too small.
“I think it’s unfortunate that we didn’t raise the pay for council members this year,” Macdonald said. “We’re creating a situation where only wealthy people can run for office.”